Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher - Works Upon This Psalm
TITLE AND SUBJECT. This sacred ode, which bears simply the
title of "A Psalm, "follows fitly upon the last, and is evidently an integral
part of the series of royal psalms. If Ps 97:1-12 described the publication of
the gospel, and so the setting up of the kingdom of heaven, the present Psalm is
a sort of Coronation Hymn, officially proclaiming the conquering
Messiah as Monarch over the nations, with blast of trumpets, clapping of hands,
and celebration of triumphs. It is a singularly bold and lively song. The
critics have fully established the fact that similar expressions occur in
Isaiah, but we see no force in the inference that therefore it was written by
him; on this principle half the books in the English language might be
attributed to Shakespeare. The fact is that these associated Psalms make up a
mosaic, in which each one of them has an appropriate place, and is necessary to
the completeness of the whole, and therefore we believe them, to be each and all
the work of one and the same mind. Paul, if we understand him aright, ascribes
Ps 95:1-11 to David, and as we believe that the same writer must have written
the whole group, we ascribe this also to the son of Jesse. Whoever that may be,
the song is worthy to rank among the most devout and soul stirring of sacred
DIVISION. We have here three stanzas of three verses each.
In the first, Ps 98:1-3, the subject of praise is announced, in the second, Ps
98:4-6, the manner of that praise is prescribed; and in the third, Ps 98:7-9,
the universal extent of it is proclaimed.
Verse 1. O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done
marvellous things. We had a new song before (Ps 96:1-13) because the Lord
was coming, but now we have another new song because he has come, and seen and
conquered. Jesus, our King, has lived a marvellous life, died a marvellous
death, risen by a marvellous resurrection, and ascended marvellously into
heaven. By his divine power he has sent forth the Holy Spirit doing marvels, and
by that sacred energy his disciples have also wrought marvellous things and
astonished all the earth. Idols have fallen, superstitions have withered,
systems of error have fled, and empires of cruelty have perished. For all this
he deserves the highest praise. His acts have proved his Deity, Jesus is
Jehovah, and therefore we sing unto him as the LORD. His right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the
victory; not by the aid of others, but by his own unweaponed hand his
marvellous conquests have been achieved. Sin, death, and hell fell beneath his
solitary prowess, and the idols and the errors of mankind have been overthrown
and smitten by his hand alone. The victories of Jesus among men are all the more
wonderful because they are accomplished by means to all appearance most
inadequate; they are due not to physical but to moral power--the energy of
goodness, justice, truth; in a word, to the power of his holy arm. His
holy influence has been the sole cause of success. Jesus never stoops to use
policy, or brute force; his unsullied perfections secure to him a real and
lasting victory over all the powers of evil, and that victory will lie gained as
dexterously and easily as when a warrior strikes his adversary with his right
hand and stretches him prone upon the earth. Glory be unto the Conqueror,
let new songs be chanted to his praise. Stirred by contemplating his triumphs,
our pen could not forbear to praise him in the following hymn:
Forth to the battle rides our King;
He climbs his conquering ear;
He tits his arrows to the string,
And smites his foes afar.
Convictions pierce the stoutest hearts,
They bleed, they faint, they die;
Slain by Immanuel's well aligned darts,
In helpless heaps they lie.
Behold, he bares his two edged sword,
And deals almighty blows,
His all revealing, killing word
Mixed with joint and marrow goes.
Anon arrayed in robes of grace
He rides the trampled plain,
With pity beaming from his face,
And mercy in his train.
Mighty to save he now appears,
Mighty to raise the dead,
Mighty to stanch the bleeding wound,
And lift the fallen head.
Victor alike in love and arms,
Myriads before him bend:
Such are the Conqueror's matchless charms.
Each foe becomes his friend.
They crown him on the battle field
Of all the nations King;
With trumpets and with cornets loud
They make the welkin ring.
The salvation which Jesus has accomplished is wrought out with
wonderful wisdom, hence it is ascribed to his right hand; it meets the
requirements of justice, hence we read of his holy arm; it is his own unaided
work, hence all the glory is ascribed to him; and it is marvellous beyond
degree, hence it deserves a new song.
Verse 2. The LORD hath made known his salvation, --by the
coming of Jesus and by the outpouring of the Holy Ghost, by whose power the
gospel was preached among the Gentiles. The Lord is to be praised not only for
effecting human salvation, but also for making it known, for man would never
have discovered it for himself; nay, not so much as one single soul would ever
have found out for himself the way of mercy through a Mediator; in every case it
is a divine revelation to the mind and heart. In God's own light his light is
seen. He must reveal his Son in us, or we shall be unable to discern him. His righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the
heathen. This word "righteousness" is the favourite word of the apostle
of the Gentiles; he loves to dwell on the Lord's method of making man righteous,
and vindicating divine justice by the atoning blood. What songs ought we to
render who belong to a once heathen race, for that blessed gospel which is the
power of God unto salvation, "for therein is the righteousness of God revealed
from faith to faith." This is no close secret; it is clearly taught in
Scripture, and has been plainly preached among the nations. What was hidden in
the types is "openly shewed" in the gospel.
Verse 3. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the
house of Israel. To them Jesus came in the flesh, and to them was the
gospel first preached; and though they counted themselves unworthy of eternal
life, yet the covenant was not broken, for the true Israel were called into
fellowship and still remain so. The mercy which endureth for ever, and the
fidelity which cannot forget a promise, secure to the chosen seed the salvation
long ago guaranteed by the covenant of grace. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our
God. Not to Abraham's seed alone after the flesh, but to the elect among all
nations, has grace been given; therefore, let the whole church of God sing unto
him a new song. It was no small blessing, or little miracle, that throughout all
lands the gospel should be published in so short a time, with such singular
success and such abiding results. Pentecost deserves a new song as well as the
Passion and the Resurrection; let out hearts exult as we remember it. Our
God, our own for ever blessed God, has been honoured by those who once bowed
down before dumb idols; his salvation has not only been heard of but seen among
all people, it has been experienced as well as explained; his Son is the actual
Redeemer of a multitude out of all nations. In these three verses we are taught how to praise the Lord.
Verse 4. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth.
Every tongue must applaud, and that with the rigour which joy of heart alone can
arouse to action. As men shout when they welcome a king, so must we. Loud
hosannas, full of happiness, must be lifted up. If ever men shout for joy it
should be when the Lord comes among them in the proclamation of his gospel
reign. John Wesley said to his people, "Sing lustily, and with a good courage.
Beware of singing as if you were half dead or half asleep; but lift up your
voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice now, nor more ashamed of
its being heard, than when you sung the songs of Satan." Make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise;
Burst forth, and sing, and play. Let every form of exultation be
used, every kind of music pressed into the service till the accumulated praise
causes the skies to echo the joyful tumult. There is no fear of our being too
hearty in magnifying the God of our salvation, only we must take care the song
comes from the heart, otherwise the music is nothing but a noise in his ears,
whether it be caused by human throats, or organ pipes, or far resounding
trumpets. Loud let our hearts ring out the honours of our conquering Saviour;
with all our might let us extol the Lord who has vanquished all our enemies, and
led our captivity captive: He will do this best who is most in love with Jesus:
"I have found the pearl of greatest price,
My heart doth sing for joy;
And sing I must, a Christ I have.
Oh, what a Christ have I!"
Verse 5. Sing unto the LORD with the harp. Skill in music
should not be desecrated to the world's evil mirth, it should aid the private
devotions of the saint, and then, like George Herbert, he will sing,
"My God, my God,
My music shall find thee,
And every string
Shall have his attribute to sing."
Martin Luther was thus wont to praise the Lord, whom he loved
so well. God's praises should be performed in the best possible manner, but
their sweetness mainly lies in spiritual qualities. The concords of faith and
repentance, the harmonies of obedience and love are true music in the ear of the
Most High, and better please him than "heaving bellows taught to blow, "though
managed by the noblest master of human minstrelsy. With the harp. A very sweet instrument of music, and
capable of great expression. The repetition of the word is highly poetical, and
shows that the daintiest expressions of poetry are none too rich for the praise
of God. His worship should be plain, but not uncouth, if we can compass
elegancies of expression there are occasions upon which they will be most
appropriate; God, who accepts the unlettered ditty of a ploughman, does not
reject the smooth verse of a Cowper, or the sublime strains of a Milton. All
repetitions are not vain repetitions, in sacred song there should be graceful
repeats, they render the sense emphatic, and help to fire the soul; even
preachers do not amiss when they dwell on a word and sound it out again and
again, till dull ears feel its emphasis.
And the voice of a Psalm, or with a musical voice, as
distinguished from common speech. Our voice has in it many modulations; there is
the voice of conversation, the voice of complaint, the voice of pleading, the
voice of command, and there ought to be with each of us the voice of a Psalm.
Man's voice is at its best when it sings the best words in the best spirit to
the best of Beings. Love and war must not monopolise the lyric muse; the love of
God and the conquests of Immanuel should win to themselves man's sweetest
strains. Do we sing enough unto the Lord? May not the birds of the air rebuke
our sullen and ungrateful silence? in their brave struggles to achieve their country's
independence, and were the repeated expression of their thanksgivings. The Lord
of Psalmists and the Son of David, by the words of a Psalm proved himself to be
higher than David; and sang Psalms with his apostles on the night before he
suffered, when he instituted the holy supper of his love. With Psalms Paul and
Silas praised God in the prison at midnight when their feet were made fast in
the stocks, and sang so loud that the prisoners heard them. And after his own
example the apostle exhorts the Christians at Ephesus and Colossae to teach and
admonish one another with Psalms anti hymns and spiritual songs. Jerome tells us
that in his day the Psalms were to be heard in the fields and vineyards of
Palestine, and that they fell sweetly on the ear, mingling with the songs of
birds, and the scent of flowers in spring. The ploughman as he guided his plough
chanted the hallelujah, and the reaper, the vine dresser, and the shepherd sang
the songs of David. "These, "he says, "are our love songs, these the instruments
of our agriculture." Sidonins Apollinaris makes his boatmen, as they urge their
heavily laden barge up stream, sing Psalms, till the river banks echo again with
the hallelujah, and beautifully applies the custom, in a figure, to the voyage
of the Christian life. J.J.S. Perowne.
Verse 5. The voice of a Psalm. In D'Israeli's "Curiosities
of Literature" there is a very curious piece upon Psalm singing, in which he
mentions the spread of the singing of Psalms in France, which was first started
among the Romanists by the version of Clement Marot, the favoured bard of
Francis the First. In Marot's dedication occur the following lines:
"Thrice happy they, who may behold,
And listen in that age of gold!
As by the plough the labourer strays,
And carman 'mid the public ways,
And tradesman in his shop shall swell
Their voice in Psalm or canticle,
Singing to solace toil; again
From woods shall come a sweeter strain!
Shepherd and shepherdess shall vie
In many a tender Psalmody;
And the Creator's name prolong,
As rock and stream return their song!
Begin then, ladies fair! begin
The age renew'd that knows no sin!
And with light heart, that wants no wing,
Sing! from this holy songbook, sing!"
The singing of these Psalms became so popular that D'lsraeli
suggests that "it first conveyed to the sullen fancy of the austere Calvin the
project" of introducing the singing of Psalms into his Genevan discipline. "This
infectious frenzy of Psalm singing, "as Warton almost blasphemously describes
it, rapidly propagated itself through Germany as well as France, and passed over
to England. D'Israeli says, with a sneer, that in the time of the Commonwealth,
"Psalms were now sung at Lord Mayor's dinners and city feasts; soldiers sang
them on their march and at parade; and few houses which had windows fronting the
streets, but had their evening Psalms." We can only add, would to God it were so
Verses 5-6. These were, literally, the instruments most in
use among the Jews, and a spiritual signification has been attached to each
instrument. They seem to me to represent the cardinal virtues, the harp
implying prudence; the psaltery, justice; the trumpet, fortitude;
and the cornet, temperance. Bellarmine.
Verses 5-6. It is evident that the Psalmist here expresses
the vehement and ardent affection which the faithful ought to have in praising
God, when he enjoins musical instruments to be employed for this purpose. He
would have nothing omitted by believers which tends to animate the minds and
feelings of men in singing God's praises. The name of God, no doubt, can,
properly speaking, be celebrated only by the articulate voice; but it is not
without reason that David adds to this those aids by which believers were wont
to stimulate themselves the more to this exercise; especially considering that
he was speaking to God's ancient people. There is a distinction, however, to be
observed here, that we may not indiscriminately consider as applicable to
ourselves everything which was formerly enjoined upon the Jews. I have no doubt
that playing upon cymbals, touching the harp and the viol, and all that kind of
music which is so frequently mentioned in the Psalms, was a part of the
education; that is to say, the puerile instruction of the law: I speak of the
stated service of the temple. For even now, if believers choose to cheer
themselves with musical instruments, they should, I think, make it their object
not to dissever their cheerfulness from the praises of God. But when they
frequent their sacred assemblies, musical instruments in celebrating the praises
of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of
lamps, and the restoration of the other shadows of the law. The Papists,
therefore, have foolishly borrowed this, as well as many other things from the
Jews. Men who are fond of outward pomp may delight in that noise; but the
simplicity which God recommends to us by the apostle is far more pleasing to
him. Paul allows us to bless God in the public assembly of the saints only in a
known tongue, 1Co 14:16. The voice of man, although not understood by the
generality, assuredly excels all inanimate instruments of music; and yet we see
what Paul determines concerning speaking in an unknown tongue. What shall we
then say of chanting, which fills the ears with nothing but an empty sound? Does
any one object that music is very useful for awakening the minds of men and
moving their hearts?, I own it; but we should always take care that no
corruption creep in, which might both defile the pure worship of God and involve
men in superstition. Moreover, since the Holy Spirit expressly warns us of this
danger by the mouth of Paul, to proceed beyond what we are there warranted by
him, is not only, I must say, unadvised zeal, but wicked and perverse obstinacy.
Verses 5-6. The song and the stringed instruments belonged to
the Levites, and the trumpets to the priests alone. Kitto says the trumpets did
not join in the concert, but were sounded during certain regulated pauses in the
vocal and instrumental music. The harps and voices made the sweetness, while the
trumpets and horns added the strength; melody and energy should combine in the
worship of God. C.H.S.
Verse 6. With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful
noise. God's worship should be heartily loud. The far resounding trump and
horn well symbolise the power which should be put forth in praise.
Before the LORD, the King. On coronation days, and when
beloved monarchs ride abroad, the people shout and the trumpets sound till the
walls ring again. Shall men be more enthusiastic for their earthly princes than
for the divine King? Is there no loyalty left among the subjects of the blessed
and only Potentate? King Jehovah is his name; and there is none like it,
have we no joyful noise for him? Let but the reigning power of Jesus be felt in
the soul and we shall cast aside that chill mutter, drowned by the pealing
organ, which is now so commonly the substitute for earnest congregational
Say, if your hearts are tuned to sing,
Is there a subject greater?
Harmony all its strains may bring,
But Jesus' name is sweeter.
Who of his love doth once partake,
He evermore rejoices;
Melody in our hearts we make,
Melody with our voices.
Verse 7. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Even its
thunders will not be too grand for such a theme. Handel, in some of his sublime
choruses, would have been glad of its aid to express his lofty conceptions, and
assuredly the inspired psalmist did well to call in such infinite uproar. The
sea is his, let it praise its Maker. Within and upon its bosom it bears a wealth
of goodness, why should it be denied a place in the orchestra of nature? Its
deep bass will excellently suit the mystery of the divine glory. The world, and they that dwell therein. The land should be
in harmony with the ocean. Its mountains and plains, cities and villages, should
prolong the voice of jubilee which welcomes the Lord of all. Nothing can be more
sublime than this verse; the muses of Parnassus cannot rival the muse of Zion,
the Castallan fount never sparkled like that "fount of every blessing" to which
sacred bands are wont to ascribe their inspiration. Yet no song is equal to the
majesty of the theme when Jehovah, the King, is to be extolled.
Verse 8. Let the floods clap their hands. The rolling
rivers, the tidal estuaries, the roaring cataracts, are here summoned to pay
their homage, and to clap their hands, as men do when they greet their
sovereigns with acclamation. Let the hills be joyful together, or in concert with the
floods. Silent as are the mighty mountains, let them forget themselves, and
burst forth into a sublime uproariousness of mirth, such as the poet described
when he wrote those vivid lines--
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among,
Leaps the live thunder! Not from one lone cloud,
But every mountain now hath found a tongue,
And Jura answers, through her misty shroud,
Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud."
Verse 9. Before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth.
Stiller music such as made the stars twinkle with their soft kind eyes suited
his first coming at Bethlehem, but his second advent calls for trumpets, for he
is a judge; and for all earth's acclamations, for he has put on his royal
splendour. The rule of Christ is the joy of nature. All things bless his throne,
yea, and the very coming of it. As the dawn sets the earth weeping for joy at
the rising of the sun, till the dewdrops stand in her eyes, so should the
approach of Jesus' universal reign make all creation glad. With righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people
with equity. This is the joy of it. No tyrant and no weakling is he,
to oppress the good or to indulge the vain, his law is good, his action right,
his government the embodiment of justice. If ever there was a thing to rejoice
in upon this poor, travailing earth, it is the coming of such a deliverer, the
ascension to the universal throne of such a governor. All hail, Jesus! all hail!
Our soul faints with delight at the sound of thins approaching chariots, and can
only cry, "Come quickly. Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!" Keble's version of the last four verses is so truly beautiful
that we cannot deny our readers the luxury of perusing it:
"Ring out, with horn and trumpet ring,
In shouts before the Lord the King:
Let ocean with his fulness swing
In restless unison:"
"Earth's round and all the dwellers there,
The mighty floods the burden bear,
And clap the hand: in choral air,
Join every mountain lone."
"Tell out before the Lord, that he
Is come, the Judge of earth to be,
To judge the world in equity,
Do right to realm and throne."
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Title. The inscription of the psalm in Hebrew is only the
single word rwmzm Mizmor, "Psalm" (whence probably the title "orphan Mizmor" in the
Talmudic treatise Avodah Zara). J.J.S. Perowne.
Title. Hengstenberg remarks, "This is the only psalm which
is entitled simply `a psalm.' This common name of all the psalms cannot be
employed here in its general sense, but must have a peculiar meaning." He
considers that it indicates that this is the lyric accompaniment of the more
decidedly prophetical psalm which precedes it, --in fact, the psalm of that
prophecy. He also notes that in the original we have in Ps 98:5-6 words akin to
the title brought into great prominence, and perhaps this may have suggested it.
Title. It is at least interesting to notice that a song Of
Zion which so exults in the king's arrival should be called preeminently rwmzm,
Mizrnor; as if the Psalm of Psalms were that which celebrates Israel, and the
earth at large, blessed in Messiah's Advent. Andrew A. Bonar.
Whole Psalm. A noble, spirit stirring psalm. It may have
been written on the occasion of a great national triumph at the time; but may,
perhaps, afterwards be taken up at the period of the great millennial
restoration of all things. The victory here celebrated may be in prophetic
vision, and that at Armageddon. Then will salvation and righteousness be openly
manifested in the sight of the hostile nations. Israel will be exalted; and the
blessed conjunction of mercy and truth will gladden and assure the hearts of all
who at that time are Israelites indeed. Godliness will form the reigning
characteristic of the whole earth. Thomas Chalmers.
Whole Psalm. The subject of the Psalm is the praise of
Jehovah. It consists of three strophes of three verses each. The first strophe
shows why, the second how Jehovah is to be praised; and the third
who are to praise him. Frederick Fysh.
Whole Psalm. This psalm is an evident prophecy of Christ's
coming to save the world; and what is here foretold by David is, in the
Blessed Virgin's Song chanted forth as being accomplished. David is the
Voice, and Mary is the Echo.
1. DAVID. "O sing unto the Lord a new song." (The
Voice.) MARY. "My soul doth magnify the Lord." (The Echo.)
2. DAVID. "He hath done marvellous things." (The Voice.)
MARY. "He that is mighty hath done great things." (The Echo.)
3. DAVID. "With his own right hand and holy arm hath he gotten
himself the victory." (The Voice.) MARY. "He hath showed strength with
his arm, and scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts." (The
4. DAVID. "The Lord hath made known his salvation; his
righteousness hath he openly showed, "&c. (The Voice.) MARY. "His
mercy is on them that fear him, from generation to generation." (The
5. DAVID. "He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward
the house of Israel." (The Voice.) MARY. "He hath holpen his servant
Israel, in remembrance of his mercy." (The Echo.)
These parallels are very striking; and it seems as if Mary had
this psalm in her eye when she composed her song of triumph. And this is a
farther argument that the whole psalm, whether it record the deliverance of
Israel from Egypt, or the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, is yet to be
ultimately understood of the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ, and the
proclamation of his gospel through all the nations of the earth: and taken in
this view, no language can be too strong, nor poetic imagery too high, to point
out the unsearchable riches of Christ. Adam Clarke.
Verse 1. O sing unto the LORD a new song. This is man's end,
to seek God in this life, to see God in the next; to be a subjection the kingdom
of grace, and a saint in the kingdom of glory. Whatsoever in this world
befalleth us, we must sing: be thankful for weal, for woe: songs ought always to
be in our mouth, and sometimes a new song: for so David here, "sing a new
song:" that is, let us put off the old man, and become new men, new
creatures in Christ: for the old man sings old songs: only the new man sings a
new song; he speaketh with a new tongue, and walks in new ways, and therefore
doth new things, and sings new songs; his language is not of Babylon or Egypt,
but of Canaan; his communication doth edify men, his song glorify God. Or a
new song, that is, a fresh song, nova res, novum canticum, new for
a new benefit. Eph 5:20: "Give thanks always for all things." It
is very gross to think God only in gross, and not in parcel. Hast thou been sick
and now made whole? praise God with the leper, Lu 17:11-19: sing a new
song for this new salve. Dost thou hunger and thirst after righteousness,
whereas heretofore thou couldest not endure the words of exhortation and
doctrine? sing a new song for this new grace. Doth Almighty God give thee a true
sense of thy sin, whereas heretofore thou didst draw iniquity with cords of
vanity, and sin as it were with cart ropes, and wast given over to work all
uncleanness with greediness? 0 sing, sing, sing, a new song for this new
Or new, that is, no common or ordinary song; but as
God's mercy toward us is exceeding marvellous and extraordinary, so our thanks
ought to be most exquisite, and more than ordinary: not new in regard of the
matter, for we may not pray to God or praise God otherwise than he hath
prescribed in his word, which is the old way, but new in respect of the manner
and making, that as occasion is offered, we may bear our wits after the best
fashion to be thankful.
Or, because this Psalm is prophetical, a new song, that is, the
song of the glorious angels at Christ's birth, "Glory to God in the highest, and
on earth peace, good will toward men, "(Lu 2:14); a song which the world never
heard before: that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head is an
old song, the first that ever was sung; but this was no plain song, till
Christ did manifest himself in the flesh. In the Old Testament there were many
old songs, but in the New Testament, a new song. That "unto us is born a
Saviour, which is Christ the Lord, "is in many respects a new song;for
whereas Christ was but shadowed in the Law, he is showed in the Gospel; and
new, because sung of new men, of all men. For the sound of the Gospel is
gone through all the earth, unto the ends of the world (Ro 10:18); whereas in
old time God's old songs were sung in Jewry: "His name is great in Israel. In
Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion, "Ps 76:1-2.
Verse 1. A new song. O ye who are new in Christ, though
formerly old in the Old Adam, sing ye to the Lord. Psalter of Peter Lombard,
Verse 1. He hath done marvellous things. He has opened his
greatness and goodness in the work of redemption. What marvels has not Christ
1. He was conceived by the Holy Ghost.
2. Born of a virgin.
3. Healed all
manner of diseases.
4. Fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes.
5. Raised the
6. And what was more marvellous, died himself.
7. Rose again by his own
8. Ascended to heaven.
9. Sent down the Holy Ghost.
10. And made his
apostles and their testimony the instruments of enlightening, and ultimately
converting, the world.
Verse 1. His right hand. Since the Psalmist says, that
Christ hath gotten him the victory by his right hand and his arm, it is not only
a demonstration of his divine and infinite power, but also excludes all other
means, as the merits of saints and their meretricious works. Martin
Verse 1. Holy arm. The creation was the work of God's
fingers: "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, "Ps 8:3;
redemption a work of his arm; "His holy arm hath gotten him the victory";
yea, it was a work of his heart, even that bled to death to accomplish it.
Verse 1. A clergyman in the county of Tyrone had, for some
weeks, observed a little ragged boy come every Sunday, and place himself in the
centre of the aisle, directly opposite the pulpit, where he seemed exceedingly
attentive to the services. He was desirous of knowing who the child was, and for
this purpose hastened out, after the sermon, several times, but never could see
him, as he vanished the moment service was over, and no one knew whence he came
or anything about him. At length the boy was missed from his usual situation in
the church for some weeks. At this time a man called on the minister, and told
him a person very ill was desirous of seeing him; but added, "I am really
ashamed to ask you to go so far; but it is a child of mine, and he refuses to
have any one but you; he is altogether an extraordinary boy, and talks a great
deal about things that I do not understand." The clergyman promised to go, and
went, though the rain poured down in torrents, and he had six miles of rugged
mountain country to pass. On arriving where he was directed, he saw a most
wretched cabin indeed, and the man he had seen in the morning was waiting at the
door. He was shown in, and found the inside of the hovel as miserable as the
outside. In a corner, on a little straw, he beheld a person stretched out, whom
he recognised as the little boy who had so regularly attended his church. As he
approached the wretched bed the child raised himself up, and, stretching forth
his arms, said, "His own right hand and his holy arm hath gotten him
the victory," and immediately he expired. K. Arvine.
Verse 2. The LORD hath made known his salvation. By the
appearance of his Son in the flesh, and the wonders which he did. His
righteousness hath he openly shewed, etc., in the gospel, to all men;
that righteousness which is called the "righteousness of God, " and which is
enjoyed by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe: for
there is no difference. Ro 3:22. B. Boothroyd.
Verse 2. The LORD hath made known, etc. The word
denotes not only a publication and promulgation, but also a clear and
certain demonstration which produces conviction and causes the matter to be
laid up in the mind and memory and preserved: for the proper
signification of the root ydy is to lay up what is to be preserved.
The word hlg is added, which properly means to uncover, to be uncovered, hence
he revealed or uncovered, that it might be both naked and clear,
for the purpose of more fully illustrating the character of the manifestation of
the Gospel, opposed to what is obscure, involved in shadows and types, and
veiled in legal ceremonies. Of which the apostle treats expressly in 2Co 3:7-18.
Lastly, when it is added, that in the sight of the nations this
uncovering is done, it signifies that this salvation pertains to them also, that
it comes to them without distinction, since the Gospel is nakedly and clearly
announced. From which it also clearly appears, that the matter reason of the
new song are found in such a singular event, since God who formerly
permitted the nations to walk in their own ways, now under Messiah calls all
without distraction to salvation through faith and newness of life.
Verse 2. Made known: He says not, He shewed, but
He made known. Adam knew him, and predicted concerning him, "A man
shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they twain
shall be one flesh." Abel knew him, who offered the lamb; Seth knew him, and
called upon him; Noah knew him, and saved all the race in the ark; Abraham knew
him, and offered up his son to him. But because the world had forgotten him and
worshipped idols, the Lord made his Jesus known, when he sent the Word in
flesh to the Jews, and revealed his righteousness to the nations,
when he justified them through faith. Wherefore did he reveal him to the
nations? Because of his mercy. Wherefore old he make him known to the Jews?
Because of his truth, that is, his promise. Honorius, the Continuator of
Verse 3. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth. The
psalmist very properly observes, that God in redeeming the world "remembered
his truth, "which he had given to Israel his people--language, too, which
implies that he was influenced by no other motive than that of faithfully
performing what he had himself promised. The more clearly to show that the
promise was not grounded at all on the merit or righteousness of man, he
mentions the "mercy" of God first, and afterwards his
"faithfulness" which stood connected with it. The cause, in short, was
not to be found out of God himself, (to use a common expression,)but in his mere
good pleasure, which had been testified long before to Abraham and his
posterity. The word "remembered" is used in accommodation to man's
apprehension; for what has been long suspended seems to have been forgotten.
Upwards of two thousand years elapsed from the time of giving the promise to the
appearance of Christ, and as the people of God were subjected to many
afflictions and calamities, we need not wonder that they should have sighed, and
given way to ominous fears regarding the fulfilment of this redemption. John
Verse 3. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth. His
mercy moved him to make his promise, and his truth hath engaged
him to perform it; and he hath been mindful of both, by scattering the blessed
influences of his light and bounty over the face of the whole earth, and causing
all nations to set and partake of the salvation of God. Matthew
Verse 3. All the ends of the earth have seen, etc. O unhappy
Judea. The ends of the earth have seen, the salvation of God, every land
is moved to joy, the whole globe is glad, the floods clap their hands, the hills
rejoice; yet the evil hearts of the Jews believe not, but are smitten with the
penalty of unbelief in the darkness of their blindness. Gregory, in
Verse 3. Have seen. There is a degree of point in the
expression have seen; it implies actual faith, united with knowledge,
that moves the will to love and to desire; for they cannot be said to have seen
God's salvation, who, content with nominal faith never bestow a thought on the
Verse 4. Make a joyful noise. Bless God for a Christ. The
Argives when delivered by the Romans from the tyranny of the Macedonians and
Spartans, Quae guadia, quae vociferationes fuerunt! quid florum in
Consulem profuderunt! what great joys expressed they! what loud outcries
made they! The very birds that flew over them fell to the ground, astonied at
their noises. The crier at the Nemean games was forced to pronounce the word
Liberty, iterumque, iterumque, again, and again. John Trapp.
Verses 4-6. Wherewith is God to be praised? In a
literal sense with all kind of music: vocal, sing unto the Lord:
chordal, Praise him upon the harp: pneumatical, with trumpets,
etc. In an allegorical exposition (as Euthymius interprets it)
we must praise God in our actions, and praise him in our contemplation; praise
him in our words, praise him in our works; praise him in our life, praise him at
our death; being not only temples (as Paul), but (as Clemens Alexaudrinus
calls us) timbrels also of the Holy Ghost. John Boys.
Verse 5. With the harp, with the harp. The repetition made
use of is emphatic, and implies that the most ardent attempts men might make to
celebrate the great work of the world's redemption would fall short of the
riches of the grace of God. John Calvin.
Verse 5. The voice of a psalm. The sound of the Zimrah,
here, as in Ps 81:2, is certainly the name of some musical instrument. But what
the particular instrument might be, which went by that name, is quite uncertain.
Verse 5. The voice of a Psalm. With psalms Jehoshaphat and
Hezekiah celebrated their victories. Psalms made glad the heart of the exiles
who returned from Babylon. Psalms gave courage and strength to the Maccabees
Verse 6. Trumpets. tlruux, Chatsotseroth:here
only in the Psalter. These were the straight trumpets (such as are seen on the
Arch of Titus) used by the priests for giving signals. Nu 10:2-10; 1Ch 15:24,28,
etc. The shofar, rmwv (cornet), was the ordinary curved trumpet,
cornet, or horn. William Kay.
Verse 6. Trumpets. The word here used is uniformly rendered
trumpets in the Scriptures, Nu 10:2,8-10 31:6; et al. The trumpet was
mainly employed for convening a public assembly for worship, or for assembling
the hosts for battle. The original word, xruux chatsotserah, is
supposed to have been designed to imitate "the broken pulse like sound of the
trumpet, like the Latin, taratantara." So the German trarara, and
the Arabic, hadadera. The word here used was given to the long, straight
trumpet. Albert Barnes.
Verse 6. Trumpets. The trumpet served the same purpose, in a
religious and civil sense, as bells among Christians, and the voice among
Mohammedans. Indeed, it is understood that Mohammed directed the voice to be
employed, in order to mark a distinction between his own sect and the Jews with
their trumpets and the Christians with their bells. Kitto's Pictorial
Verse 6. With trumpets. Origen calls the writings of the
evangelists and the apostles trumpets, at whose blast all the structures
of idolatry and the dogmas of the philosophers were utterly overthrown. He
teaches likewise that by the sound of the trumpets is prefigured the
trumpet of the universal judgment, at which the world shall fall in ruin, and
whose sound shall be joy to the just, and lamentation to the unjust.
Verse 6. Before the Lord, the King. Since it is distinctly
added before Jehovah the King, and the words, with trumpets and
sound of cornet make a joyful noise, are used, there seems to be a
reference to that public rejoicing commonly manifested at the coronation of
kings, or the celebration of undertakings for the public safety. This idea is
not foreign to the present passage, since Jehovah is represented as King and
Saviour of the people. Venema.
Verses 7-8. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world,
and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands.
And thou, majestic main!
A secret world of wonders in thyself,
Sound his stupendous praise, whose greater voice
Or bids you roar, or bids your roarings fall.
Verses 7-8. These appeals to nature in her great
departments--of the sea in its mighty amplitude, and the earth with its floods
and hills--form, not a warrant, but a call on Christian ministers to recognise
God more in their prayers and sermons as the God of Creation, instead of
restricting themselves so exclusively to the peculiar doctrines of Christianity.
Do the one, and not leave the other undone. Thomas Chalmers.
Verses 7-8. The setting forth the praise of Christ for the
redemption of sinners, may not only furnish work to all reasonable creatures;
but also if every drop of water in the sea, and in every river and flood, every
fish in the sea, every fowl of the air, every living creature on the earth, and
whatsoever else is in the world: if they all had reason and ability to express
themselves; yea, and if all the hills were able by motion and gesticulation to
communicate their joy one to another; there is work for them all to set out the
praise of Christ. David Dickson.
Verses 7-9. Matthew Henry on these verses quotes from
Virgil's 4th Eclogue the verses (of which we subjoin Dryden's translation) in
which the poet, he says, "either ignorantly or basely applies to Asinius Pollio
the ancient prophecies which at that time were expected to be fulfilled; "adding
that Ludovicus Vives thinks that these and many other things which Virgil says
of this long looked for child "are applicable to Christ."
O of celestial seed! O foster son of Jove!
See, lab'ring Nature calls thee to sustain
The nodding frame of heaven, and earth, and main!
See to their base restored, earth, seas, and air;
And joyful ages, from behind, in crowding ranks appear.
Verse 8. Let the floods clap their hands. The clapping of
the hands being a token of delight and approbation, and the striking or dashing
of the water in a river being, for the noise of it, a resemblance of that,
the rivers are here said to clap their hands. Henry
Verse 8. Though the language be figurative, so far as it
gives a voice to the inanimate creation in its various departments, yet, like
all the figurative language of Scripture, it expresses a truth--that which the
Apostle has stated without a metaphor in the express revelation that the
"creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious
liberty of the children of God." And this because the reason of that bondage
will no more exist. It is the consequence of sin: but when the world shall be
subjected to the righteous rule of its coming King (as predicted in the last
verse of this psalm), then earth and all creation shall own its present Lord,
and join its tribute of praise to that of Israel and the nations, and the
redeemed and glorified chinch. William De Burgh.
Verse 9. The Psalter is much occupied in celebrating the
benign fruits which Christ's reign is to yield in all the earth. It
will be a reign of HOLINESS. This is its proper and distinctive nature. Under
it, the ends of the earth will fear God, and rejoice in his salvation. It will
be a reign of JUSTICE. Under it, the wars and oppressions and cruelties, the
unequal laws and iniquitous institutions that have so long vexed and cursed the
world, shall find a place no more. This happy reformation is usually foretold in
the form of a proclamation that the Lord is coming "to judge the
earth." It is important, therefore, to keep in mind the true sense and
intention of that oft repeated proclamation. It does not refer, as an unwary
reader might suppose, to the Judgment of the Great Day. There is no terror in
it. The Psalms that have it for their principal burden are jubilant in the
highest degree. The design of the proclamation is to announce Christ in the
character of a Peaceful Prince coming to administer equal laws with an impartial
hand, and so to cause wrong and contention to cease in the earth. This is
Christ's manner of judging the earth. What he has already done in this direction
enables us to form a clear conception of what he will yet set himself to do.
When he designs to accomplish great and salutary reforms in the political and
social institutions of a people, he begins by dislodging bad principles from
men's minds and planting Scriptural principles in their stead; by purging evil
passions from men's hearts, and baptising them with the Spirit of truth and
justice, godliness and lovingkindness. A sure foundation having been thus laid
for a better order of things, he will by some storm of controversy or of
revolution sweep away the institutions in which injustice has entrenched itself,
and will thus make it possible for righteousness to have free course. Oh what a
store of comfort for the down trodden, the enslaved, the needy, is laid up in
the announcement that the Lord is coming to be the avenger of all such! Well may
all the creatures be invited to clap their hands for joy at the thought that he
has taken this work in hand; that he sitteth upon the floods; and that the
storms that agitate the nations are the chariot in which he rides to take
possession of the earth, and make it an abode of righteousness and peace.
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. A new song. The duty, beauty, and benefit of
maintaining freshness in piety, service, and worship.
Verse 1. He hath done marvellous things.
1. He hath created a marvellous universe.
2. He has established a marvellous government.
3. He hath bestowed a marvellous gift.
4. He hath provided a marvellous redemption.
5. He hath inspired a marvellous book.
6. He hath opened a marvellous fulness.
7. He hath effected a marvellous transformation.
Verse 1. The victory. The victories of God in judgment, and
in mercy: especially the triumphs of Christ on the cross, and by his Spirit in
the heart, and in and by the church at large.
Verse 2. The Lord hath made known his salvation.
1. The contents of which it is composed.
2. The reasons for which it has been provided.
3. The price at which it has been procured.
4. The terms on which it shall be imparted.
5. The way in which it must be propagated.
6. The manner in which its neglect will be punished. W.
Verse 2. (first clause).
1. What is salvation?
2. Why it is called the Lord's: "Salvation is of the Lord."
3. How he has made it known.
4. For what purpose.
5. With what results. E.G. Gange.
Verse 2. The great privilege of knowing the gospel.
1. In what it consists. (a) Revelation by the Bible. (b)
Declaration by the minister. (c) Illumination by the Spirit. (d) Illustration in
2. To what it has led. (a) We have believed it. (b) We
have so far understood it as to growingly rejoice in it. (c) We are able to tell
it to others. (d) We abhor those who mystify it.
Verse 2. Salvation's glory.
1. It is divine--"his salvation."
2. It is consistent with justice--"his righteousness."
3. It is plain and simple--"openly showed."
4. It is meant for all sorts of men--"heathen."
Verse 3. (first clause). The Lord's memory of his
covenant. Times in which he seems to forget it; ways in which even in those
times he proves his faithfulness; great deeds of grace by which at other times
he shows his memory of his promises; and reasons why he must ever be mindful of
Verse 3. (last clause). All the ends of the
1. Literally. Missionaries have visited every land.
2. Spiritually. Men ready to despair, to perish.
3. Prophetically. Dwell on the grand promises concerning the
future, and the triumphs of the church. E.G.G.
Verse 3. All the ends of the earth have seen, &c.
1. The greatest foreigners have seen it; many have "come from
the east and the west; "Greeks, Peter's hearers, the Eunuch, Greenlanders, South
Sea Islanders, Negroes, Red Indians, &c., &c.
2. The ripest saints have seen it; they are at the light end of
the earth, stepping out of the wilderness into Canaan, &c.
3. The vilest sinners have seen it; those who have wandered so
far that they could get no farther without stepping into hell. The dying thief.
The woman who was a sinner. Those whom Whitefield called "the devil's
castaways." W. J.
Verse 4. The right use of noise.
1. "Make a noise." Awake, O sleeper. Speak, O dumb.
2. "Make a joyful noise." The shout of deliverance, of
gratitude, of gladness.
3. "Make a loud noise, all the earth." Nature with her ten
thousand voices. The church with myriad saints.
4. "Make a joyful noise unto God." Praise him alone. Praise him
for ever. E.G.G.
Verse 6. Joy a needful ingredient of praise. The Lord as
King, an essential idea in adoration. Expression in various ways incumbent upon
us, when praising joyfully such a King.
Verses 7-8. Nature at worship. The congregation is
1. Vast. Sea, earth, rivers, hills.
2. Varied. Diverse in character, word, aspect, each from each
other, constant and alike in this alone, that all, always worship God.
3. Happy. In this like the worshippers in heaven, and for the
same reason--sin is absent. E.G.G.
Verse 8. The song of the sea, and the hallelujah of the
Verse 9. The last judgment as a theme for thankfulness.
Verse 9. Before the Lord. Where we are, where our joy should
be, where all our actions should be felt to be, where we shall be-- "before
the Lord." Enquire--What are we before the Lord? What shall we be when he
WORK UPON THE NINETY-EIGHTH PSALM
In "The Works of John Boys, "1626, folio, pp. 34-6, there is a
short exposition of this psalm.